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Visit of Prime Minister Robert D. Muldoon of New Zealand Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony.

November 09, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. This morning, I want to welcome to our country Prime Minister Muldoon and his wife, Thea, who have come here from New Zealand, a nation which has, for the last 125 years, had strong diplomatic ties to the United States. As we know, many generations before that, American merchant seamen and whaling ships were received with open arms by the people of New Zealand as they visited those ports of call.

Prime Minister Muldoon is a strong and able leader. He comes here to express the common bonds that bind his country with our own. We have a very strong alliance between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. And this has been the basis for a firm foundation of economic and political and military comradeship, which has sustained us in times of testing and times of trial and times of danger.

New Zealanders have fought shoulder to shoulder with American fighting men in World War I and World War II, in the Korean war, and in Vietnam. And this is a country which is in a strategic part of the world and, in addition to their military alliances, have worked closely with us for the economic development of the southern Pacific region.

It's very important that we understand the trade benefits that come to both our countries by this close and friendly relationship, consultation on economic matters, and planning for the future. We are very pleased that this relationship does exist.

Prime Minister Muldoon is a man who has a particular interest in the economic well-being of his own people. He has, since he has been in office, reduced the adverse balance of trade in New Zealand much more than 50 percent. The unemployment rate in New Zealand is only 1 percent, which shows what a good leader he is and also shows the commitment of the New Zealand people to hard and honest work for the benefit of one another.

We had one of our nuclear cruisers go into New Zealand recently, a port in Wellington. The New Zealand people, on their own initiative, had a program called Dial-A-Sailor. The private families in that capital city were encouraged to invite American seamen to come to their homes for a visit, and every sailor on that ship received between five and eight invitations to visit homes in Wellington. I'm very proud that this kind of natural friendship exists, not only at the governmental level but also between the people of our countries.

Prime Minister Muldoon has shown a great interest in my own administration since the first weeks, and I look forward to working with him during this day to make sure that we recommit ourselves to the principle that peace and cooperation and security are indivisible.

Mr. Prime Minister, I, on behalf of the 215 million Americans, welcome you as a friend to our country. Thank you, sir.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, Your Excellencies, and ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you, sir, for the warmth of your welcome and for your very kind words about my country.

The ties that draw together New Zealand and the United States are of long standing. Americans, as you've said, were amongst the earlier visitors to our shores. Indeed, in 1840, when the British Government formally claimed sovereignty over New Zealand by the Treaty of Watangi, there were probably more American whalers in the country than there were British residents.

We, like you, are part of the New World. We, like you, were settled by men and women who came to find a new life in a new land. We were Britain's frontier as you were Europe's. Those who made our two countries, Mr. President, shared similar hopes and aspirations. Their experience developed in them a respect for self-reliance and individual enterprise and a healthy distaste for class privilege, affectation, and pretension. In New Zealand, as in the United States, a man was judged by what he was and did, not by his country of origin, his wealth, or his family background. That remains true today for both of us.

New Zealanders and Americans, then, are very much the same sort of people. The taproots of our relationship are bedded deep in our common experience, and they continue to nourish the growth of its various branches.

In two World Wars New Zealanders and Americans fought side by side and died side by side to preserve the individual freedoms and democratic ideals to which we are committed. From the second of those great conflicts, we both learned that distance offered little defense and that even the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean were no barrier to a resourceful and determined enemy. That experience led to the establishment of the ANZUS Treaty, the collective defense arrangement that draws us together with Australia in a common commitment to help keep free from threat the region of which all of us are a part and the environment in which our three peoples live and trade and travel.

The preservation of peace, Mr. President, demands more of us than that we should be prepared for war. Legitimate aspirations too long denied can be as real a threat to security and stability as the rattling saber or the sounding bugle.

Together, we are playing our part in the Pacific and elsewhere to help those who want to help themselves attain for their people the chance to live decent, satisfying, and useful lives. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are words, Mr. President, over the meaning of which philosophers may squabble. But to those of common sense--our ordinary bloke, your honest Joe--their meaning is plain.

Like the United States, New Zealand not only believes in democracy but practices it. There are all too few in the world who do. But that's no reason why we should not be prepared to stand up and be counted, and, indeed, it's the very reason why we should.

New Zealand and the United States, Mr. President, are two countries that have long heard the beat of the same drummer. I have every confidence that over the coming years we shall continue to step out together along the same path.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister Robert D. Muldoon of New Zealand Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242641

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